Menstrual hygiene among the school-going early adolescent girls (10-14 Years): A socio-cultural study in Bankura District, West Bengal, India
Keywords:adolescent girls, menstruation, menarche, socio-cultural factors, taboos
The onset of menstruation is a significant milestone in female puberty, marking the transition from girlhood to womanhood and initiating the reproductive phase of a woman's life. In Indian society, menstruation is associated with a myriad of traditions, myths, misconceptions, taboos, and superstitions. Open discussions about menstruation management are rare. Various socio-cultural influences propagate negative or erroneous information among girls, detrimentally affecting their understanding of menstrual hygiene and safe practices. This cross-sectional study focuses on early adolescent girls (aged 10-14 years) from a high school in the Bankura district of West Bengal, illuminating the socio-cultural factors that prevent them from gaining appropriate knowledge, attitudes, and practices concerning menstrual hygiene. The study found that 11.87% of the girls viewed menstruation as a result of a divine curse, 1.70% perceived it as a disease, and 54.23% lacked a clear understanding of this crucial life phase. Additionally, the majority were ignorant of the source of menstrual bleeding. A mere 8.47% of the girls had knowledge of menstruation before experiencing their first period (menarche). Most of girls didn’t even hear about menstruation before menarche. Thus, menstruation and its associated practices are overshadowed by prevalent taboos and socio-cultural misconceptions.